Brad Davis knows the importance of the 2005 season in Frisco for both his team and for himself. After a dynamite first season with Dallas in 2003 where he led the team in points (17), was tied for first in assists (5) and was second in goals (6), shots (41) and shots on goal (16), Davis produced a "frustrating" follow-up season in 2004 with the Burn.
The 5-11, 165-pound midfielder finished last season with six points from two goals and two assists in 29 matches and 24 starts. Despite playing 35 more minutes in 2004, Davis' offensive production slipped in a major way.
"Last season I felt great in the preseason," said Davis. "In our first match I had a goal that got called back and after that things just slowly started to slip away. I never got that comfortable on the ball during matches like I usually do and I tried my best to work through it, but it just wasn't going my way."
When one attended a Burn training session in 2004, it didn't take too long to notice No. 10 on the field. Davis is crafty with the ball, as if it's glued to his foot as he weaves in and out of cones and defenders. Teammates, coaches, the media and fans marvel and shake their heads at the things Davis can do with the soccer ball. For one reason or another, that talent did not translate smoothly from training sessions during the week to matches on Saturdays. Still a young buck at only 23 years old, Davis believes it's just a matter of time before he shows his true potential on a more consistent basis.
"In 2004, my confidence was extremely low and when I got the ball I would want to make the easiest possible play," said Davis. "Next year, I'm going to get it inside of my head to do the things that I know I am good at like taking people on. I want to forget about last year, but I will never forget about last year. It was a learning year for me and despite what I was going through, Colin Clarke stuck with me and showed a lot of faith in me.
"Next year I'm going to build on last year and do what I need to do."
During his young soccer career, Davis has accomplished things some veterans of the game would envy. The St. Charles, Missouri native has nine caps with the U.S. U-23 National Team, registering one goal and one assist. He finished his U-20 career with 45 overall appearances and 28 starts. Davis tallied four goals in 12 international appearances, and 13 goals overall during his last two years.
An NSCAA Second-Team All-American at St. Louis University in 2001 after recording 34 points from 10 goals and 14 assists, he led the school to an 18-2 overall record, the Conference USA title and an NCAA quarterfinal appearance. In 2000, Davis was named to Soccer America's All-Freshman team after netting 11 goals and adding six assists in 19 matches. His freshman totals were just one point off the school's freshman record set by former Columbus Crew striker Brian McBride. For all the accolades Davis has received over his young career, they amount to nothing if he is not a successful professional proving that he deserved every honor that has been given to him.
"I should be out there proving that I deserved those awards and proving to everybody what I can do on a soccer field," said Davis. "Coaches and players would tell me last year that I was the best player out there in practice and for some reason it was a totally different field on Saturday during the matches. I'm glad that is behind me, but I can always learn from what happened last year." The 2005 season will be an important one for FC Dallas as the team will open up a new 21,193 seat soccer stadium in Frisco. Similar to Eddie Johnson before last season, this year could be the "make it or break it" year for Brad Davis.
Before last year, everybody was talking about the potential Johnson had to do great things on the professional level. Currently, nobody is talking about Johnson's potential, but about the next level this young man can get to after he tied for the league lead in goals in 2004.
Davis now sits in a similar position. These players play two different positions, but hopefully for FC Dallas and for Brad Davis, they will arrive at two similar outcomes. Johnson met those expectations last year. Davis believes he can meet the expectations placed before him in 2005.
"I know that next year is a very important year for me," said Davis. "I'm looking to prove to Dallas that I want to be here and I love it here. I want to be around the team for we have a great group of guys. I am definitely looking to have that breakout season next year.
"I have to start with my confidence high, knowing that when I get the ball I am going to make things happen out there."
Davis believes that his confidence will be higher and that he will make it his mission to improve upon last season. Through the hard work he is putting in this offseason, Davis will be ready to go for his team in 2005.
As of December, he is in St. Louis, Missouri preparing himself for what he called a "breakout season" with a rigorous training program. Believing in himself and knowing that he can not only compete, but excel at the professional soccer level is what makes Davis an important member to the new identity the team is building.
If his confidence and his determination to succeed pay off, then FC Dallas will have added another young weapon to the already lethal arsenal including Johnson, Cory Gibbs, and Ronnie O'Brien.